Planning a vacation in Mauritius? We’re here to help!
Tell people you’re going to Mauritius and you’re likely to get plenty of envious sighs. This paradise island off the coast of Africa was declared by Mark Twain to be the blueprint for heaven, and its lush tropical greenery and white-sand beaches melting into Indian Ocean blue do nothing to dispel that impression. The island is known for being the one-time home of that most famous of extinct animals, the poor old dodo, and while there’s no hope for the flightless feathered one, Mauritius is home to a wealth of tropical wildlife, with efforts being made to protect and preserve local biodiversity. This once-uninhabited island has seen periods of Dutch, French and British rule before gaining independence in 1968, and its colonial and trading history has left behind a country of many peoples and influences – but one thing they all have in common is that they’ll give you a very warm welcome.
Explore Port Louis
Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, is a bustling yet laidback city where modern convenience and historical charm sit side by side, as do beautifully preserved colonial architecture and the high-rise glass towers of the city’s prominent banking industry.
Mauritius is a duty-free shopping haven, so malls are a regular sight around the island. One of the best is the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis harbor. Inside you’ll find high-end boutiques, duty-free shops and designer labels alongside craft stalls stocked with straw baskets and Indian textiles, and there are occasional bazaar sales when people from across the island arrive to sell homemade goods.
For a more immersive shopping experience, head to the city’s Central Market. The colonnaded Victorian edifice is a riot of sound and color, its ground floor home to vegetable stalls overflowing with the bounty of the island, the sellers hawking their wares usually happy to pose for an Insta-friendly picture if asked. Bunches of sticky vanilla pods and packets from the herbalist whose overflowing stall advertises cures for everything from stress to eczema make great take-home souvenirs, as do the sculptures and bottles of Mauritian rum from the craft market upstairs. The food court is a favorite with the locals – join a line to enjoy the various fritters, roti, curries, dumplings and noodles and an icy almond alouda, a milk drink with tapioca balls.
If you’re in Port Louis during the horseracing season (May to late November), don’t leave before you’ve paid a visit to the Champ de Mars. The racecourse is the oldest in the southern hemisphere but is very much alive and kicking – a Saturday afternoon sampling the buzz with a cold beer and hordes of locals in their finest is a great way to spend the day.
Enjoy a sweet treat
Though Mauritius now has a diverse modern economy, agricultural plantations were once the source of its riches, and there are a number of places on the island where you can learn more about these crops, sample them and take in some stunning scenery while you’re at it.
The Bois Cheri Tea Plantation was founded in 1892, and today is the largest producer of tea on the island, covering 250 hectares. It’s a stop on the island’s tea route, La Route du Thé, and a visit here allows you to take a tour of the factory and a small museum before a tea tasting at the plantation’s airy terrace restaurant – wraparound views of the lush green tea fields make for a supremely soothing cuppa.
King of the crops on Mauritius, though, is sugar, and its fortuitous by-product, rum. If you dare, take the kids to L’Aventure du Sucre, for a history of the white stuff on the island that also sheds light on slavery, the rum trade and many other details of the country’s past. They’ll be itching to get their little fingers on the sweet treats in the shop, and the fabulous desserts in the restaurant on site. You, meanwhile, can sip on some of that excellent liquor.
Get back to nature
Mauritius offers plenty of opportunities to get out and about in nature. Black River Gorges National Park, on the island’s southwestern tip, covers 25 square miles of protected forest, home to more than 300 species of flowering plants and a host of wildlife. There are 18 miles of hiking trails, and an easy two-hour walk from the park’s information center will take you up to Black River Peak viewpoint – the highest point on the island with knockout views. Keep an eye out for the famous pink pigeon, a bird that nearly went the same way as the dodo, but is now protected, and the mischievous macaque monkeys that also make their home here.
Isle aux Aigrettes (Egret Island), a small coral island only 800m off the coast of Mauritius, was declared a nature reserve back in 1965, and ever since then, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) has been working to restore it to its former untouched glory. It’s only accessible on a guided eco-tour with the MWF, which lasts about two hours and will introduce you to Aldabra giant tortoises, ebony trees, wild orchids and rare bird species.
Experience the luxury of our villas in Mauritius
Bel Ombre, in the south of the island of Mauritius, is a peaceful spot in the grounds of a former sugar estate. Close to the famous Seven Coloured Earths at Chamarel, La Vanille Nature Park, excellent golf courses and the historic Morne Brabant peninsula, our villas in Bel Ombre make the perfect base whatever your vacation interests might be. Of course, you can choose to do nothing except just sit back and soak up some tropical rays, then set yourself up on the sun deck by your private pool or take a stroll in your manicured garden. With properties sleeping up to 14, you can take the whole extended family to enjoy a Mauritius vacation to remember.